We Don't Know Anything Really. So why is conspiracy really easy to like.

Our brains don’t like randomness says famed former professional poker player turned best-selling author Annie Duke — an academic who now teaches about decision theory.

We as human beings are always trying to figure out this cause and effect that’s just kind of random, yet our brains don’t like; we try to connect dots and create causality where it doesn’t exist.

Belief in conspiracy theories isn’t correlated to intelligence.

It’s kind of a different thing that’s going on with how comfortable are you with saying, ‘Shit happens. Sometimes life is random and there’s a lot of luck involved and what are you going to do?’ versus [people who] really want things to make sense and to [maintain] the illusion of control over outcomes.

If you say, ‘These random things can happen like COVID and people are dying and you’re now stuck in your home,’ it’s hard to think about that as luck expelling itself all over you because that has implications [regarding how much control] you have over your destiny.

We’re very deterministic in how we think . . . so we’re always connecting things together to make it feel like decisions and outcomes and things are much more deterministic than they are.

“And this, of course, is the central problem with conspiracy theorists — once you inflexibly accept that something is a conspiracy, any contrary evidence has the paradoxical effect of making your case stronger. Every contradiction deepens the conspiracy.” - klosterman

We’re also natural pattern recognizers, even where patterns don’t exist. It’s so we can partly figure out that, ‘When I went to this part of the plains, there were a lot of lions, [so for safety’s sake I shouldn’t go back],’ and so we can recognize faces.

It’s [hard] to understand that the world is not as you see it and that we impose things on the world all the time.

We shouldn’t have so much confidence that we know the truth, but we really believe that the cubes are spinning. So [one solution is] don’t have so much confidence that we know the truth, and know that you’re imposing your reality on the world, as opposed to reality imposing itself on you.

“Conspiracy theories are really attractive. Figuring out patterns is one of the things that gets your brain to give you a nice dose of chemical reward, the little ping of dopamine and whatever else that keeps you smiling. As a result, your brain is pretty good at finding patterns, and at disregarding information that doesn’t fit. Which means it’s also pretty good at finding false patterns, and at confirmation bias, and a bunch of other things that can be fatal. Our brains are also really good at making us the center of a narrative, because it’s what we evolved for.”
Elizabeth Bear, Ancestral Night

Conspiracy theories are not new, in any case, they’ve been going on a long time. The bigger issue now is how easily they are amplified. One of the heuristics we have to determine whether something is true or not is processing fluency, meaning how easy is it for us to process a message.

“Feedback loops, echo chambers, circular reinforcement. All could play a part in escalating the utterly imaginary to the level of reality, sometimes with fatal consequences.”
Jasper Fforde, Early Riser

Breaking The Fourth Wall Concept

In film-making exists the concept called breaking the fourth wall. Convincing people they are watching something real requires hypnosis, and when you break the fourth wall, you call attention to this hypnosis.

If you are going to break the fourth wall do it all the time…or once in a blue moon.When you break the fourth wall, you creep into the secret mind of a character.

Rick & Morty Fans knows this concept well.

Ever notice how many times it is used with psychopaths?

Everyone notices when you break the fourth wall. You cross a line. If you’re going to do it, you need to make it count. Otherwise, why do it? If you’re going to break the 4th wall, don’t be delicate. Be bold. Make a statement. Be controversial.

If we hear something over and over again, it increases its truthiness, in the words of Stephen Colbert.

If you add a picture — so I say giraffes are the only animal that can’t jump, and I include a picture of a giraffe — that increases this truthiness. You can see where that interacts with social media. With theories plus repetition, it’s harder to figure out fact from fiction.

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SIMON DODSON - marketin - digital marketing
never really finished anything cept cake.


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Further Reading

The Key To Effective Communication. In the book, Dont be a Dick [https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43611318-don-t-be-a-dick], author Menward writes ’Once upon a time, there was a man who believed in an ethical code of conduct when communicating. Never Split the Difference takes you inside his …